'BACKBENCHERS OF 2010'
ConservativeHome – 28 December 2010
JONATHAN ISABY'S PICK:
My backbencher of the year goes to one of the 147 Tory newcomers to the Commons, Rebecca Harris, for her parliamentary and extra-parliamentary efforts to promote the introduction of permanent daylight saving time, which she wrote about here on ConHome in October. She came fourth in the Private Member's Bill ballot and set about promoting her bill, going on to secure the passing of its second reading in early December - despite opposition from the Government. In textbook fashion she settled on an issue and successfully built an alliance of charities, road safety and tourism organisations and a variety of other interest groups and persuaded a large enough number of colleagues to back the measure as well. Time will tell whether the bill reaches the statute book, but for showing that backbenchers can help shape the agenda, Rebecca Harris deserves this accolade.
TIM MONTGOMERIE'S PICK:
The only man to beat David Cameron in an election this year was Graham Brady. The Tory leadership wanted the more pliable Richard Ottaway to lead the 1922 Committee and organised a ham-fisted, John Major-inspired attempt to stop Brady succeeding Sir Michael Spicer as the shop steward of backbench Tories. Graham Brady was eventually elected resoundingly and won a majority of new MPs' votes in an encouraging sign that the Class of 2010 are independently-minded. I endorsed Graham Brady in the hope that he'd be candid in private, loyal in public and that is the course he has pursued. The Tory Right dominated the elections for the '22 and it was also good to see a serious Eurosceptic, Martin Callanan, become leader of the Tory MEPs.
PAUL GOODMAN'S PICK:
Backbenchers should take up unpopular causes. The most unpopular cause of all is Members of Parliament. Their best advocate has been Adam Afriyie, who's trying to steer a sensible course between the lax arrangements that made possible the expenses scandal and the excessive bureaucracy implemented by IPSA. He is therefore my backbencher of 2010. Afriyie is rich enough not to need to claim expenses himself, and sensible enough to realise that the most MPs aren't in the same position - and shouldn't be.
HARRY PHIBBS' PICK:
Julian Lewis would in all probability now be a Defence Minister were it not for the Coalition Government and the requirement which followed for Lib Dem Ministerial posts. As it is he is using his considerable expertise on security matters to challenge any "false economies" in terms of defence cuts or fudging on the priority of retaining a credible nuclear deterrent. On the Wikileaks saga he declared: "Was not the real problem that a low-level crime yielded such a high volume of confidential data? So is not the real lesson for the future that gigantic databases of this sort ought not to be created?" With Julian Lewis in Parliament we can all sleep a little bit more soundly in our beds at night.